Thursday, January 29, 2004

Jean et Robert 

(The following blog entry couldn't possibly be fiction.)

Robert: So, Jean...here we are again! [Its the dead of winter in Tokyo. That means it isn't cold at all. Robert takes a sip of his single espresso and peers out of the window of a cafe somewhere near the Uplink Factory across the street to the adjacent building where 'salarymen' are slaving away in a smoky meeting room.]

Jean: Yep! [Mr. Show sits erect in his chair, snapping up a few pics with his new mega-pixel keitai.] BTW, I had a good time the other day with you at that Level-X thing in Ebisu. How's your article for 1-UP coming along? [Takes a sip of his macha-latte.]

R: Oh, the pennings are pretty much in the 'bochi-bochi' stage at this point, but give me a few more weeks! (This could become a kind of slogan for my life.) And of course it goes without saying that the exhibit was indeed most triumphant! But regarding the posted-up post-game extravaganza on your website...err...next time, try not to plaster so many pics of me all over the place, OK? Some of the follow-up comments were as disturbing as they were accurate!

J: Your wish is my command! [a knowing smile while cutting a quick glance at his companion's duds]

R: Did I mention that I actually went back and picked up that killer desk lamp at Delfonics? It set me back quite a bit, but it was worth it. Turns out it was made my an American design company, so go figure! Anyway, Thanks for showing me that place!

J: That's what friends are for, eh?

R: Indeed...

[lull in conversation in which they fail to make to make eye-contact for over 2 min. while constantly fondling their respective keitais. Jean contemplates a Tokyo Boy moblog entry. Some where in Europe, Momus contemplates Jean.]

R: [Hitting the send button] Well, Mr. Snow... [clears throat] I take it that you are aware of why I arranged this little meeting today?

J: Naturally, Robert...according to your friendly keitai mail, you wanted to intimate to me exactly why you...what was it again?

R. Why I simultaneously respect and fear you...

J: Yes, that was it! Over coffee was it?

R: Yes, I'm touched that you remembered! I'm truely touched, Jean [uses the French pronounciation].

J: Well, we've got the coffee part covered!

R: Hell yeah! Or macha-latte as the case may be. [Cuts a quick glance at his companions beverage]

J: Touche!

R: Summer's Eve.

J: What?

R: Nevermind...

[momentary lull in conversation in which they fail to make to make eye-contact for a few seconds while constantly wishing their were fondling one another's keitais.]

J: Well?

R: OK...Well it's like this, Jean...I'm trying to figure out if I should be your friend or kill you.

J: [Cooly adjusts his nifty specs in a comendable effort to appear nonplussed] Go on.

R: Well, since I was in my mid-20s, I always made it my policy to either befriend or do away with people like you. But I mean, I've never actually considered doing away with anyone up until this point. But thanks to you Jean, I've really reached a kind of crux.

J: [Leans slowly and imperceptibly back away from his companion the distance of a micromillimeter over the span of 5 sec.] What do you mean by 'People like me'?

R: That's a ticklish quesiton, Jean [inadvertently switching back to the English pronounciation]. Hummm...Well, it has something to do with with your particular allignment.

J: 'Allignment'? [Jean has a flashback to 9th grade] You mean like 'lawful good' or 'chaotic evil' or something like that? Look, this isn't a fuckin' game of D&D, buddy!

R: But that's just it! I wish it were! Then your allignment would be clearly written on your character sheet [Robert has a flashback to 10th grade], settling the question once and for all as to which team you are on, and thus freeing me from my currently dillema of whether to pop a cap in yo' punk ass [Robert has recently re-viewed South Park Episode 702] or put you on my nengajo (a kind of Japanese X-mas card) emailing list for next year.

J: What the F@$K are you talking about?

R: [Not being very helpful] You know, the same thing happened when I met R.! I know that you don't really know him all that well, so this'll probably turn out to be a poor example, but with him it was just that there was this wealth of convergences...the music, the South, Japan, etc., and because of that I sensed right off the bat that I'd either have to be his friend or foe. There was never a feeling that a middle ground of any kind was possible. Of course, I'm sure that he and I have felt like killing each other from time to time (I guess), but the fact that we've never actually done it attests to...something, I guess...could it be the fact that we are...friends?

J: So you are saying that you and I have a lot of things in common?

R: Well, that's just it. You and I ALMOST have a lot of things in common, but sometimes I'm not sure. As far as what we DO have in common, well...it appears that this month we've both been cited on that cad's weblog. But that of course DOESN'T mean that you and I are of the same ilk, though.

J: Go on...

R: I quote at length: Jean Snow is a person, a subject, a cross between an enviable swine...

J: An enviable swine?!?

R: ...and a 'recording angel', experiencing the kind of Tokyo events I wish I were able to see. He moves through them, seeing them for me, photographing everything with his AU mobile phone (the A5302CA model by Casio), often moblogging the stuff in real time, in situ. Many times I've thought 'I wonder what I'd be doing if I were in Tokyo right now?' and turned to jeansnow.net only to find that Jean is actually having my Tokyo afternoon for me...

J: Well THAT'S a little more like it!

R: And of me, the following is said: Another Tokyo friend blogging intelligently is Robert Duckworth, CalArts japtopper, Max/MSP composer, and occasional Odradek, whose GlitchSlap Tko may be less lavishly visual than Jean's page, but makes up for it in erudition and the insider perspective Robert's command of Japanese gives him.

J: Great, so Mr. Currie is into our blogs...so what?

R: Which is all fine and dandy, but Nick's comments reminded me of something that my friend R. said the other day on his weblog. Again, I quote at length: 'Sometimes when I look at my Mail inbox on my Powerbook, I see messages from so many different kinds of people. Then I think if the personalities of the people who sent me these emails were attached to the email and I decompressed the personalities from their archives, and the email personalities were animated and vocal like the people who sent them, then there might be a huge argument going on in my Mail inbox, at this very moment. Or there might be a cocktail party with cheap champagne.'

J: OK, I'm starting to see where you're coming from, Robert.

R: Really? Wonderful!

J: So the question is, are you and I having an argument or a cocktail party or what?

R: Very succinctly put, Jean!

J: Well, which one is it?

R: I'll venture an answer at that, if you promise not to get angry.

J: I promise.

R: The key here is...well, I have to pose the question: What is the ESSENCE of Jean Snow? Of Robert? Of Momus for that matter? This kind of treble inquiry is perilous to say the least, especially when undertaken by someone such as I, but I'll go out on a limb here and say that Jean Snow is, in essence, a BULK PASSING MACHINE OF JAPANESE CULTURE.

J: ...[Mr. Snow seems noticeably disturbed]

R: Sounds messy, doesn't it? But, I mean, yes, you are 'totally, TOTALLY wired' and we are grateful that you DO let us share in that by giving us the vicarious use of your eyes through your blog, but someting implicit (and perhaps darker?) goes along with that that doesn't get mentioned very often...the fact that you do what you do without taking very much time to judge or reflect on anything at all, but this in fact is your saving grace!

J: I don't see how...

R: Please allow me to paraphrase something that I included above. Momus says he wonders what he'd be doing if he were in Tokyo right now, and he indeed does turn to your jeansnow.net only to find that you, Jean, are actually having his Tokyo afternoon for him.

J: Right.

R: But in once sense, what he's saying is that he's glad that he's glad to be able to 'borrow' your virtualized sensory apparatus sans its attendant judgement-making cerebrum. After all, Nick is more of an aesthetic Cheshire cat. [meow] He doesn't need anyone to JUDGE anything for him. Christ, he's got 15 years on both of us...But the thing is that actually sometimes things with oblique relationships often cause more friction than diametrically opposed ones.

J: You mean you and I? Hummm...but even if that were the case, is it really necessary to revert to murder?

R: That's exactly the question that I've come here. Before we can go any further, I need...I mean I REALLY need to know what you think about this. Are you gonna go my way?

J: [slowly slurps the dregs of the foam from his drink, turns his attention to the essay in question, and trys to imagine if he is being implicated in something amounting to something deeper than just another one of Robert's flights of fancy]


Friday, January 23, 2004


Bradderick P. Breeck wants all of you to know that his milkshake brings all the boys to the yard (even those living in Amsterdam). And they're like, it's better than yours! Damn right it's better than yours. He could teach you, but he'd have to charge...

'El sol es el mejor torrero.' 

I've read a lot of Hemingway over the years...I guess we all have...but I'd never read his 'Death in the Afternoon' until this week. What a book! I picked it up for 100 yen and in great condition about a month ago at a used book store. Then, a few nights ago on TV there just happened to be a special on NHK about bullfighting. Naturally, I could have chalked the whole thing up to happenstance, but I mean come on! So I finally got around to reading the book in earnest the other day. Really such a departure from his usual work! Very little fiction, just fact upon interesting fact punctuated by astute observations about something for which he had a passion: the Spanish bullfight. Of course, I've been to Spain several times, and I'd even seen 'The Running of the Bulls' in Pamplona a few years ago (no I didn't join in), but nothing in my past had prepared me for the depth of meaning that was being revealed to me in the pages of this book. Hemingway's portrayal of the bullfight as not so much a sport, but as more of a tragicomedy had me rivited. Of course, the story, as they say, is in the details, so I won't bore you with my half-baked rehashing of them. I would like to take the time to quote one passage at length, which actually has nothing to do at all with bullfighting. It's Hemingway writing about writing, which is something that he doesn't really do that often. Anyway, I found it absorbing, so I'm sure someone else out there will too.

'This too to remember. If a man writes clearly enough anyone can see if he fakes. If he mystifies to avoid a straight statement, which is very different from breaking so-called rules of syntax or grammar to make an effect which can be obtained in no other way, the writer takes a longer time to be known as a fake and other writers who are afflicted by the same necessity will praise him in their own defence. True mysticism should not be confused with incompetence in writing which seeks to mystify where there is no mystery but is really only the necessity to fake to cover lack of knowledge or the inability to state clearly. Mysticism implies a mystery and there are many mysteries; but incompetence is not one of them; nor is overwritten journalism made literature by the injection of a false epic quality. Remember this too: all bad writers are in love with the epic.'

Excerpted from chapter 5 of Hemingway's 'Death in the Afternoon'

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Once, twice, three times... 

Well, it looks like issue #3 of OK is more or less a success! You know what they say about the third time being a charm and all that...So, had an informative little meeting with Audrey (my favorite French girl in Tokyo...but I said that already, didn't I? Did I mention that she wears white CAPES sometimes?) in 'deep Meguro' (e.g. heading west out of Meguro station down Meguro-dori, walking about 10-12 min., beginning around Meguro Drive-in and continuing to the beyond), who seems to have had a good time in America (NYC & Massachusetts) during the holidays on assignment for OK Fred. She claims that the Santas were off the hook in The Big Apple. Since I'm sure they WERE, I can't disagree. Anyway, got the skinny on what will be going on/down in the next issue. Ya'll should keep an ear to the floor now, 'cuz OK Fred #4 be lookin' lethal at this point. Well, anyway, personally speaking, I hope that the rag will wind up one day kicking a lot of ass all over the planet, especially certain certain asses/arses in the U.K. if you catch my drift. If you haven't picked up the latest issue like I'm sure Rodderick P. Schrock has, then I 'spect you be gettin' down to gettin' it. Anyway, I should take the time to say here that O. Lamm is my bitch. See you tomorrow.

Japanese pet theory kennel 

The new ramen is hands-down the hip-hop of modern Japanese food, presently cutting a wild, flavorful, transform scratch all over the culinary world of Tokyo. It's all about 1) New EXPERIMENTS in taste (I had cheese-topped miso ramen, the store specialty, in Ebisu the other day with ramen fiend/friend Jean who actually SHOULD get around to making a ramen page one of these days 2) ULTRA CHIC interiors catering to a youngish clientele (you should see some of the new stores in Sangenjaya and Roppongi) 3) The formidable 'KAEDAMA' (an almost free 'REFILL' of noodles). And all of this for under 1000 yen! How can you go wrong? One of the things that makes ramen the bomb its non-exportability, that is to say that it just can't be done right outside of Japan. If you don't believe me, please ask my friend Masahiko who, aside from being a great computer sound artist, really got me into ramen when I was in LA. I'm sure he'll be glad to set you straight. In the past, we've had other countries, especially America, to thank for really getting funky with some Japanese dishes (e.g. the now ubiquitous 'California Roll'), but for some reason ramen has never been the subject of such Frankensteinian flavor experiments. (But anyone who knows their sushi can tell you that the fish that are dished up in foreign lands aren't really minty fresh...) In fact, in America, outside of NYC or LA, mention ramen to an average person, and I'm sure that a really rancid image will come to their minds. Why? Well, they are having flashbacks, that's all. Don't forget that most college educated Americans kept themselves alive on a daily ration of (99 cent/5 pack) ramen...both during their studies and AFTER, while trying to repay the student loans for their exorbitant under-educations! Japan finally got around to re-mixing one of its own dishes without any help from us, and thank God! Sorry sushi lovers, but it looks like those little revolving round plates are SO 1990. Maybe we could spin 'em for you while we wait for our next bowl? (Incidentally, the word on the street here is that there is about to be some kind of big, Franco-American soba-based Counter-Reformationesque thing in Europe sometime soon...)

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

One man, and his honor... 

On p. 544 of Russell's History of Western Philosophy (I'm on p. 623 at the moment halfway through Berkeley), I learned that Descartes (1596-1650), the founder of modern philosophy, in addition to always being well dressed, wore a sword. This reminded me of something that someone (was it Sartre?) said about epistemology. I'll paraphrase, since I can't give the exact quote. He said that epistemology does indeed hone [the blade of] the mind, but that it unfortunately never gets around to actually cutting anything. And then I wondered if (and if so, when) the modern political situation might impel philosophers to once again feel the need to, on occasion, exchange flashes of inspiration for flashes of the blade. Naturally, we can (dare we?) chastise them for their fashion sense (or lack thereof) after the body count.


In an effort to brace myself for the impending U.S. presidential elections, here is my personal list of books to re-read. I realise that the paucity of this list betrays my total lack of acumen in the political/ideological field, but these four books seemed to offer at least a not too poorly balanced historical/international survey. Naturally, if anyone out there would like to suggest additional books, feel free to drop me a line. I promise to scour the dusty bookshelves of Jinbocho's used bookstores for them until I find them, or until the elections are over, whichever comes first.

Treatise on Government by Locke
Democrary in America by Alexis De Tocqueville
America by Jean Baudrillard
Dude, Where's My Country by Michael Moore

Also, while I'm on the subject, I'm currently reading (for the first time) the following two books.

History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
Death in the Afternoon by Hemingway

Tuesday, January 20, 2004


Well, it looks like I didn't mess up things too badly, and that the kids over at OK FRED actually want me back to work on issue #4, which will be all about rap. (Opps, have I let the cat out of the bag?) Tea/briefing with Audrey (my favorite French girl in Tokyo) on Thursday at Hanna. At this point, I can only make two pledges regarding my upcoming involvement with the magazine. 1) I'll endeavor to use cooler English 2) I'll try hard to take an even cooler picture of myself for the staff section

Monday, January 19, 2004


According to the current currency conversion rates, my two cents worth is actually worth only about 2.14208 JPY today, so I guess I'm working with a little less of a margin that I'm used to here, so I'll try and keep it short and sweet.

As you all surely must know by now, the most controversial issue here in the Japanese news this week has been the embarkation of Japanese Self Defence Forces to Iraq. Needless to say, the national and international repercussions of event have been hotly debated in terms of its constitutionality, its actual strategic military value/risk, if this will finally give Japan shot at gaining a seat on the UN Security Council that it has for so long coveted, and so on. I will not attempt to brook such subjects in this humble blog. Greater persons are having greater debates in greater places than ever I could. I can, however, offer up a single, unnerving question. But before I do, I'd like to offer up the following item to the scrutiny of all parties interested, which involves the details surrounding the fatal shooting of a one Yoshihiro Hattori on Oct. 17, 1992 in Louisiana. Please take the time to peruse these two versions of the story, for the sake of objectivity. Version 1 (Please beware of the vulgarities, and scroll down to the section titled "Halloween English" | Version 2 (Please scroll to the bottom, and begin reading from "On October 17, 1992...") And now for my queston, which is simple: Just how well can these SDF guys speak English?

Thursday, January 8, 2004


Get the skinny on the newest, least useful Japanese words here. I'll go to Kinokuniya tomorrow and pick up the newly published book version.

Wednesday, January 7, 2004


If you stay up until 9ish or so in the morning like I tend to do (who can actually GET up at that time?) and you feel like being entertained and educated by a witty pomo style children's program, then tune into 'doreme no terebi' on NHK channel 3. (The webpage is to die for.) I can't say enough good things about this show, but for now, three will have to suffice. 1) UA is one of the hosts, and you know that she is a strange diva from outer space. 2) the very colorful Yamaguchi Tomo (or just 'Tomotomo') is the other host. His hair style does it for me. 3) the show is basically all about getting kids to have fun experimenting with sound by building their own instruments and then doing these kind of Harry Partch-like jam sessions. Wild...


OK...if your Mac breaks on you when you are in Tokyo, you COULD haul your cookies over that new store in Ginza or wherever...but I mean like, what IS Ginza anyway...and where's the fun in all that? Why not knock it out Old Skool style at the Ike Shop down in Akiba like your older brother know he be used to be havin' to do? Way more fun, plus you don't have to deal with any 'Mac Genius' aspirants.

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

The boys of summer are gone... 

Last year, when I first got my studio on the outskirts of Nakameguro, Digiki and I spent the night there once or twice so that Nick, who we were on tour with could, have a little privacy at my Meguro flat. (Which is just a stone's throw away from Big-Bird Shrine, if you MUST know. For the time being, I'll forgo my own detailed description of the plentitude of nothingness that was my studio at that time. If you simply MUST know, then this will get you in the ballpark (thanks John). The point is, the first night that we were there, sleeping on the floor, I recall Digiki saying something like "There's...nothing here!" in his adorable francophonic English. At the time, all I could do was nod my head in agreement. Now I finally understand that I had it all wrong. The most important thing that ever could be in my studio was actually there all along: me! Of course, for those of you who know me well, this kind of thinking is just old-shoe...

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